50-30-20 Budget Rule
Having trouble with your budget? There's a formula for that.
By Valerie Hawkins
This year brought us the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and an election. In a recent COUNTRY Financial® survey, we found at least half of Americans said their financial security has been negatively impacted because of one or more of these events.
But despite the financially trying year, our survey also showed signs of hope for a better 2021. 38% of those surveyed believe their financial situation will improve after the new year. Many of them identified a top financial goal of controlling their spending.
To help you get started, we examined common discretionary expenses. Here are six of the top (and most expensive) costs you can start cutting today.
Save $2,800 per year1
You can get a monthly subscription for anything these days. (I’m looking at you, beef jerky of the month club.) And they can add up to about $2,800 per year.
Take inventory of all your monthly subscriptions. Cancel the ones you don’t use, or you didn’t know you were still paying for. You might be surprised at how many apps are eating up your cash.
Then look at any duplicate subscriptions in the same category. Do you need three streaming music services? Probably not.
Next, decide what you need and what you’re ok living without. You might have to make some hard decisions, but keep in mind you can always add these subscriptions back when you’re feeling more financially stable.
Save $1,300 per year2
A $15 book here and a $9.99 movie rental there may not seem like much. But the average person spends about $1,300 per year on multi-media entertainment. This includes audio books, podcasts, movies, newspapers, magazines, and movies.
Good news! Your local library offers most (if not all) these services...for free! And although you may not be able to visit your library due to COVID-19, many now offer curb-side pickup and expanded online services. Check out your local library’s website for more info.
Save $1,100 per year3
We’ve all heard this one before. Skip the designer coffee and save money. I don’t know about you, but I go into a rage when someone tells me I shouldn’t have my weekly pumpkin spice lattes.
But then I found out the average person spends $1,100 per year at coffee shops. And I pictured a barista stealing $1,100 from my online banking app. And that made me more upset than PSL withdrawals.
If you truly need a fancy coffee fix, invest in a few key tools and ingredients for an in-home coffee bar. Yummy syrups and a milk frother can go a long way (and save you a lot of dough).
Save $1,200 per year4
Like many of our friends, my husband and I recently cancelled our cable subscription to save money. Our bill seemed to get higher every year, and we were watching more streaming services than live TV anyways.
I missed cable for .02 seconds. But I did not miss paying $1,200 per year for it. That extra cushion in our bank account each month has been so necessary this year.
Save $3,000 per year5
Although restaurants have closed dine-in options due to COVID-19 precautions, many have increased their dining-out services. This makes is even easier to pick-up your fav meals. This also makes it easier to spend more money on food – as much as $3,000 per year!
By all means -- please continue to support your local eatery with a take-out order! But, to help you keep an eye on your finances, set a food budget each month and stick to it.
Cutting coupons and searching for discounts is a quick way to save a few bucks. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’re maximizing your insurance discounts.6 They could add up to be a significant amount.
You’re not alone. We’re here to help.
If you’re feeling financial strain right now, you’re not alone. Get some peace of mind and make a few tweaks to your spending to save thousands of dollars per year. That cushion can help you pay bills, help build your emergency fund, or save for your future.
COUNTRY Financial® is the marketing name for the COUNTRY Financial family of affiliated companies (collectively, COUNTRY), which include COUNTRY Life Insurance Company®, COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, and their respective subsidiaries, located in Bloomington, Illinois.
1Assumption of cancellation value of $233/month
2Assumption of cancellation value of $108/month
3Assumption of cancellation value of $91/month
4Assumption of cancellation value of $100/month
5Assumption of cancellation value of $250/month
6Amount and availability vary by state
About the COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancial.com/newsroom and on Twitter at @helloCOUNTRY.
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by Ipsos, an independent research firm. Surveys were conducted using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®, a national, probability-based panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from approximately 1,025 U.S. adults for national surveys. The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.